Angels in the Clouds
By DANNY MINTON
Our minds become filled with memories as the years pass. All the thoughts, actions, words, and feelings we have ever experienced are locked away somewhere in our memories. Some have buried themselves deep, only to surface when something sparks them. Others have faded so long ago that we aren’t even sure of all the details. I’ve found that when I visit people during their last days, memories of decades past are more vivid than current happenings. The last time I visited my grandmother, she thought I was my dad and talked about all the boys working in the fields and how she had to prepare dinner. She didn’t know who I was but remembered her boys from over sixty years before.
It is usually one of our senses that triggers our memories. When I hear the Star Wars introduction music, I remember taking my youngest son to see the movie and how we arrived too late for the earlier show and went late at night. When I smell creosote, I think of our family’s trips to see our Mamaw, smelling freshly tarred fence posts along the way. I pass by our old high school football stadium, and a wealth of memories cross my mind. When I hear the name Iowa Park, a memory that changed my life forever jumps forth. I feel tears when I hear some of the Disney songs that would make our oldest son, who passed away, laugh out loud. I look at pictures and remember all the events my wife and I went through over the years. I see my parents and siblings of all ages. Of course, I have other memories that pop up from time to time that I would like to set aside; hurt feelings, disappointments, and all the negative things I’ve gone through. However, they remain alongside all the good.
Of all the memories I have, there is one that I hold on to and bring up purposely as a reminder. When things aren’t going well in my life, I go back to the words the Lord spoke to Joshua, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NIV2011) He later tells Isaiah, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 (NIV2011) In Matthew 28, Jesus tells his disciples, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” The Hebrews writer adds in chapter 13, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
I turn seventy-five in a few months. Life has had its many ups and downs, and God has shone his presence even when I didn’t know he was walking beside me. I look back and see how he never left me, even in my darkest hours, and how together we made it through the rough times and rejoiced in those times of bliss. I’m confident that I will continue to feel his presence as life moves forward. And if I don’t, I’m confident he will be there no matter what happens.
The oldest memory I can vividly remember was when I was around three years old. My grandmother lived in a duplex, and I was next door with her neighbor’s child. It was late at night, and I was playing on a toy piano, and the mother told me how well it sounded. I remember sitting by the screen door and looking into the clouds. Lightning flashed, and I remember seeing angels in the clouds. Maybe it was just lightning or an illusion, but that one image has remained all my life. It’s a memory that tells me, “I am with you.”
The word “remember” is used more than 500 times in the New International version of the Bible. Sometimes it refers to the failure to remember, but primarily to encourage people to remember what God has done and can do. The most important memory for us is to remember Jesus and God’s love for us through their sacrifice and the hope it gives us. God tells us that He’ll never leave or forsake us. In return, we should remember what he has done for us and never leave or reject Him.
One of these days when things aren’t going well and storms of this life get you down, stop and look into the sky. Maybe you, too, will see angels in the clouds.
Danny Minton is an Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ
Precious memories–how they linger!